8.12.2010

Paper Pt VI: Victory

Kingdom Collision: The Cruciform Lens


‘Tis at the cross of Christ where earth and heaven meet
Where sin is overcome, to God the victory13

These popular lyrics, which we sing during corporate worship, capture in poetry a reality that must be our paradigm; our lenses through which we view the rest of theological discourse. In Kingdom language the realm of God comes marauding into our realm precisely in the Crucifixion; it is the point at which heaven collides into earth. In eschatological language, the Cross is also the proleptic invasion of God’s Future into our present;14 the point at which the end of the story crashes into the beginning. The Cross is the precise way in which God’s power and justice are brought to bear upon a world that has been subjected to other powers and other notions of ‘justice.’
In the Cross God’s power is revealed; so too a godly vision of justice. The Cross is how heaven imposes itself upon a rebellious earth, and is the manner and method of heavenly conquest and victory. In the Cross God brings His power to bear on the earth by allowing a rebellious earth to impose itself upon heaven, and to suffer the world’s ‘justice’ in order to defeat the powers at work on the earth. The powers of evil come fully to bear on Jesus, but they are exhausted in His body, and those powers are broken in His death.

15And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Colossians 2:15

The Cross breaks the power of sin. We often isolate this to individuals, however, it is also at work in other spheres. The justice (the making things good) that is effected within individuals is also effected in the power structures of communities, societies, and nations, through the death of the Messiah. In fact “God was pleased to reconcile all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven;”15 nothing escapes God’s desire for redemption. Even power and justice themselves are redeemed; the Cross is powerful without being coercive, and ushers in justice without collusion with worldly concepts of justice. We should not ignore the fact that the cross was the symbol of Roman power and justice long before it was used by Jesus to symbolize God’s power and justice.16
So the Cross, then, becomes the paradigm for Kingdom thought. If we seek to understand God’s rule and reign, if we seek to come under it, to propagate it, or to implement it; we must think deeply and honestly about the death of Jesus.17 It is for this stated reason that we are left with the twin symbolic ordinances that recall His death, our participation in it, and the results of that on our behalf. Through it, we see God’s power displayed and His justice manifested, His character revealed and His plans culminated.
The phrase Kingdom of God, then, is a shorthand way of referencing the unfolding narrative of God's power coming to bear on the world through a covenant people, with the climax seen in the Crucifixion of Jesus, the promise in terms of His Resurrection, and the future consummation in terms of His judgment and a resulting state that we can call justice...

3 comments:

Josh Hopping said...

I don't know...this selection didn't really sit well with me. I know what you are trying to do, but it seemed to flat.


While I know and understand the importance of the Passion narrative, I think that if we are not careful we can allow it to override the fullness of the gospel message.

For example, you call the Crucifixion "the point at which heaven collides into earth". However, I would say that the 'point' really was the birth, life, ministry, death, resurrection, and accession of Jesus coupled with the out pouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. It is everything at once - to separate one part of the story from the other parts is to lose the fullness of the God did; to in effect lose the main point of the story.

In the words of John, "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work" (1 John 3:8). It is everything; It all was an eschatological event.

With this said, I understand that Paul had a tendency to boil things down to the 'cross'. However, I think that a careful reading of Paul's letter will reflex that he was thinking about the full story when the was using that term. I.E. To him, to preach the 'cross' was to preach the life, ministry, death, resurrection, and accession of Jesus. (It also helps that he was writing to people who already had an understanding of the whole story).

Sorry if this comment is getting to long. I just think we have focused so much on Crucifixion that we have forgotten the eschatological impact of the rest of the Jesus' life. =/

Steve S. said...

"...we have forgotten the eschatological impact of the rest of the Jesus' life."

I agree and disagree...

Agree: in short, many of us protestants have simply implied that Jesus was this pseudo-impotent, passive, automaton, who sat around twiddling His thumbs for thirty-three years until the Romans got around to swinging their hammers...

Disagree: To say that the whole of Jesus life and character is of a piece, and that we must understand it holistically, is to say that what Jesus did on the Cross can be seen as a driving force behind all else that He did. Jesus chose the Cross, and as such, that action was consistent with His whole life. Inasmuch as you are arguing that we need all of Jesus' life to understand the Cross, I am saying, the Cross is the lynchpin for understanding all of Jesus' life.

So...

I appreciate your point, but I think the real problem is not that the Cross is overemphasized, rather that it is underemphasized. For all of our focus on the Cross, we fail to understand the implications of the Cross on Jesus' ministry, His psychology, His identity, His power, His Kingdom, His Church...

We just don't get what the Cross is really all about. We think it is about 'pie in the sky by and by' when it is really about victory over every evil.

Josh Hopping said...

Fair enough. I can go with this view of the Cross. =)